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Texas Repealed the Driver Responsibility Program: Now What?

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Texas Repealed the Driver Responsibility Program: Now What?

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If you’ve ever been thrown into the Driver Responsibility Program in Texas, then you may have experienced a debt trap: being charged a fine because you could not afford to pay an original fine.

Thankfully, some relief has finally arrived. Last September, Texas repealed the Driver Responsibility Program. What does this mean for drivers who were enrolled in the program? Are you wondering if you can have your license back now? If so, then you’re in the right place. Learn everything you need to know about the abolishment of the program below.

Repeal of Driver Responsibility Program Requirements

The Driver Responsibility Program has been pretty unpopular in Texas for a while now. The problem with the system was that a person who got their license suspended would be charged surcharges on top of the standard fines.

These surcharges were not minor, either. Experts estimated that these charges could range anywhere from $250 to $2,000 each year. If the person couldn’t pay these additional surcharges, then they’d get charged even more. In addition, a failure to pay could mean a longer license suspension period.

Last September, this unpopular program was finally abolished. That means that all Driver Responsibility Program surcharges that were owed prior to September 2019 are no longer collectible. You won’t have to pay any more money into this system. If you were on a payment program, then you should stop making payments as soon as possible. You no longer owe anything.

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What About the Omni Program in Texas?

It’s exciting to hear that you won’t have to pay any more money into the Driver Responsibility Program in Texas. Despite that, the Omni program is still in effect. You should check to verify that you don’t have an OmniBase hold on your license. If you do have an active hold, then it will remain in effect.

Are you unsure if you have a hold on your license or not? Check with the Department of Public Safety to see your status. You can also speak with an attorney to help you verify your information.

If you have an OmniBase hold, then you may still have to pay a fine to restore your driving privileges. If you’re struggling to make payments, then reach out to an attorney. An attorney can speak on your behalf to the local courtroom. Often, you can make arrangements to perform community service rather than pay the fine.

Can I Get My License Back Now?

The Dallas Observer reports that nearly 630,000 Texans will be impacted by the repeal of the program. These individuals will have an opportunity to get their licenses back right away!

Those who are eligible only had fees and suspensions from the Driver’s Responsibility Program. It’s important to verify whether you have other suspensions or fees that you’ll need to pay despite the end of the program. Here are some potential reasons that you might not be eligible for reinstatement yet:

  • You have a suspension due to a DWI, driving without a license, driving without insurance or a drug possession charge
  • You have an OmniBase hold for failing to appear in court or not paying court fees
  • You need to pay a reinstatement fee to the state of Texas
  • You need to re-take your driver’s license test

Many Texans will need to pay a fee to reinstate their license. This fee is unrelated to the suspended program, and you can check to see if you owe anything by checking on the state’s website.

Has your license been expired for more than two years? If so, then you’ll need to re-take the driver’s test before you get your new one.

Understanding the Lawsuit Challenging the Driver Responsibility Program

Have you already been paying into the Texas Driver Responsibility Program for some time? If so, then it might come as a shock that the program’s coming to an end. Sadly, you won’t get any type of refund or reimbursement for any money that you’ve paid into the program.

There is a pending lawsuit regarding the license-suspension program. Equal Justice Under Law, a nonprofit organization, sued the Texas Department of Public Safety and claimed that the state’s program was unconstitutional. It’s unclear whether this lawsuit impacted the decision by lawmakers to completely repeal the program.

The lawsuit doesn’t contain any type of monetary compensation aspect, so don’t expect to get any money back that you’ve put into the program. Are you wondering where all that money went? About half of all the surcharge fees from the program went directly to pay for the state’s emergency trauma care system.

Overall, about $71 million a year was funneled into paying for emergency medical care. Since the repeal, lawmakers are looking for ways to fill this gap and continue paying for trauma center care.

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Knowing What to Expect in Texas Moving Forward

 Just because Texas repealed the Driver Responsibility Program doesn’t mean that your license will automatically get restored. Depending on your circumstances, there may still be a number of challenges you have to face.

From identifying holds to paying fines, restoring your license can get confusing. Despite that, it’s an important step to take because you’ll be in even deeper trouble if you’re caught driving without your license.

If you need specific legal advice on your driver’s license situation, then it’s advised you reach out to an attorney for help. Contact our office now to get started on restoring your driving privileges.


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